One of my chief delights in the warm months is watching the hummingbirds that flock to our feeder. They cluster around the feeder, competing for the nectar it provides, swapping out places at the feeding stations. They're always pretty competitive, even if there are only two at the feeder at the time. I wonder that they don't get hurt as they dive down at each other. The competitiveness rivals that of ten year old boys on the playground, only the hummers are in a fight for life-sustaining resources instead of the top of the climbing bars. Sometimes I count as many as ten or fifteen. It's hard to keep track since they move fast as small missiles, swooping in from the trees surrounding the clearing where our house stands to get at the food source on the porch. They swarm the porch so heavily at times I hesitate to go out there sometimes. I'm afraid of getting impaled with their sharp little beaks! (This really isn't that far fetched! I have felt the whoosh of air as they whiz by my head! The little buggers could hit a person! Maybe they're trying to chase me off! Little stinkers don't know where their food comes from!)
So many hummers have visited us lately that feeding them has become quite a commitment. More nectar has to be mixed and the feeder refilled at least once every day. I often wonder what happens to them during the times the food supply is interrupted. There don't seem to be enough flowers for the poor things to get enough nectar to survive, seeing as they seem to eat constantly. Are there little dead hummingbirds scattered about on the forest floor, or do they just move on to more blooming places? Luckily the only time the food supply stops is if we have to go out of town, They always seem to come back, most of the time, anyway. But not so this last trip.
We weren't gone all that long. Saturday morning we took off and Sunday afternoon we returned by four. The feeder was empty when we got home. No hummers either. Not even any birds futilely trying to get nectar from the empty feeder tube. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Either they're little dead tufts of feathers scattered throughout the woodlands or they've left. Maybe they all migrated to Mexico or South America or wherever it is they go. It just seems awfully early for migration, but maybe we're in for a real humdinger of a winter.
Of course we refilled the feeder, and finally were rewarded with one lone bird. For two whole days, Monday and Tuesday, the little chap has had the feeder all to himself. Finally today another hummer showed up, and it's back to the fighting and dive bombing and defending the food source. Amazing to me how two birds, with a quite ample supply of food considering their limited numbers, can fight over what they have and not just coexist. Amazing to me how these two birds seem to be missing the bigger picture whilst they quarrel--winter is coming and their more prudent buddies have already flown!
Quite like people, really, with all their posturing and defensive gestures, missing the bigger peril as they fight over the day to day trivia.